What is culture?
Culture means many things to many people. In the broadest sense, culture is anything that defines the unique identity of a community or social group. Those characteristics often include social customs, seasonal traditions, geography, cuisine, oral traditions, fashion, literature, music and religious expression. However, culture also includes less obvious aspects of our lives such as heritage (both built and natural), community initiatives and the creative economy, which can include film & video industries, advertising, design & fabrication, performing arts and much more.
Calgary’s culture is as diverse as our population, finding expression across the city through art, food, fashion, dance, film, festivals, cultural celebrations, literary programs, walking and cycling events, community theatre, powwows and even pancake breakfasts.
There are over 120 languages spoken in Calgary. As our city and its culture continues to grow and evolve, we strive to define what makes Calgary special, and how we improve the quality of life for our rapidly growing and diverse population which includes First Nations, Metis and Inuit people as well as newcomers.
Developing the Cultural Plan for Calgary
In order for The City of Calgary to fully understand the scope of our current cultural resources and plan for future needs and opportunities, we are developing a Cultural Plan for Calgary. This plan will allow Calgarians to understand what we already have in the way of cultural resources, help identify the gaps and plan for what we need to do in the future. The Cultural Plan will allow us to demonstrate what a culturally rich city Calgary is, which strengthens our economy and improves the quality of life for all Calgarians.
The plan is intended to be a framework to guide the city’s approach to decision-making and planning culturally- internally, across departments and externally with partners. A first for Calgary, the Cultural Plan will support long-term planning but will also provide specific recommendations and actions to be implemented over the next 10 years. It will reflect Calgary as it is today and take into consideration the demographic trends impacting the city into the future.
A key issue being addressed by the Cultural Plan is how Calgary can build capacity to “plan culturally”. This refers to how both The City and key partner agencies might better consider and integrate cultural priorities, goals and opportunities across a wide range of planning activities. In essence, the Cultural Plan for Calgary will enable and encourage culture to be at the centre of planning initiatives, much like the environment is now a key consideration in all municipal planning.
To help develop the Cultural Plan for Calgary, expected to be delivered in early 2016, The City has contracted MDB Insight who will provide recommendations and actions to help realize City Council’s goal of making Calgary “a great place to make a living, a great place to make a life”.
How Calgarians have been engaged.
In developing the Cultural Plan for Calgary, we talked to a broad and diverse range of people from the community about what culture in Calgary means to them. The extensive consultation process was carried out between October and December 2015, and included:
- One-on-one interviews and small group discussions were conducted with over 60 Calgarians that included representation from creative and cultural businesses, non-profit organizations, Indigenous leaders and youth, ethno-cultural leaders, young professionals, elected officials and senior management from The City of Calgary.
- Seven focus group discussions were held and geared to the themes of public art and festival and events, The City and its external partners, culture and neighbourhood development, culture and Indigenous communities, culture and ethno-cultural communities, heritage resources and conservation, and creative industries and sector development.
- Community soundings were held in six neighbourhoods.
- Two online engagement platforms were available for comment
- A statistically valid telephone survey of 600 Calgarians was administered to gauge Calgarians’ perceptions of culture and to understand current types of participation.
As of December 2015 more than 850 Calgarians have provided input into the development of the Cultural Plan. Your valuable contributions throughout the engagement process have helped us to fully understand the scope of our current cultural resources and start planning for future needs and opportunities.
Please review the What We Heard report and view the video to see what Calgarians had to say.
The Cultural Plan for Calgary is in its final stages of development, and will be posted here when complete.